Table Talk: Ritu Indian Soul Food, Farming Hope’s Fundraiser, and a Clambake

Ritu’s extensive menu has plenty of options for all kinds of eaters. (Kristen Loken)

This week’s Table Talk should hopefully inspire you to have a meal soon at Ritu Indian Soul Food in the Mission, and, if you want to help San Francisco’s unhoused population, please book a ticket to Farming Hope’s Fiesta fundraiser. I also have a tidbit for you on where to find a tasty Cubano and Sunday clambake.

Where to Find Some of San Francisco’s Best Indian Food (Thank Me Later)

Ritu Indian Soul Food
3111 24th St., San Francisco
Dinner served Tue–Thu, Sat–Sun 5–10pm, Fri 11am–10pm
Brunch Sat–Sun 11am–2:30pm

In a previous Table Talk piece, I mentioned the former DUM in the Mission recently rebranded to Ritu Indian Soul Food (ritu means “seasons”). Have you been yet? No? Anyone who even remotely likes Indian food will have strong, loving feelings for Mumbai native chef Rupam Bhagat’s flavorful cuisine that will make you feel like he’s cooking just for you. Guess what? He is. He has just one other person helping out in the kitchen while turning out such great dishes, many based on family recipes. Don’t want to choose? You also have the option of having the chef cook a four-course meal for your table at $40 each.

You’ll find chef Rupam’s famed biryani at Ritu.
You’ll find chef Rupam’s famed biryani at Ritu. (Kristen Loken)

The extensive menu is shockingly affordable for how sophisticated the flavors and preparations are—nothing is over $17 at the moment. Start with his tandoori fried chicken ($14), flavorful thighs saturated in a sauce of ginger and garlic and the tang of tamarind (the flavors are inspired by the Indian-Chinese cuisine style that is popular in India). His creativity is apparent in the artichoke pakora ($10), which he marinates for extra flavor, and the fried quinoa side dish ($4), with curry leaves and chile, inspired by a State Bird Provisions topping on their chawan mushi. Crunch, crunch. And don’t miss a peek at the seasonal specials board (you may find things like zucchini blossom fritters). It’s worth noting how well gluten-free and vegan diners will eat here. There are plenty of options, from charred green beans to tandoori whole cauliflower (vegans, hold the yogurt).

The artichoke pakoras are a great place to start.
The artichoke pakoras are a great place to start. (tablehopper.com)

But if you’re a carnivore, you won’t want to pass up the pork vindaloo ($16), the best I have had outside of Goa. Chef Rupam marinates the pork butt in a garlic paste, and the flavor is so deep and delicious with ginger, garlic, coriander, turmeric, and vinegar—it just pops. Wait until you bite into the potatoes. The recipe is from his friend’s mother from Goa (where the dish hails from but this pork and vinegar dish originally has Portuguese origins). Another favorite for me is his perfectly seasoned lamb seekh kebab ($13), with notes of crushed coriander seeds and mint. You should also try his famed biryani, and I am coming back for the steamed fish.

Don’t miss Ritu’s extraordinary pork vindaloo.
Don’t miss Ritu’s extraordinary pork vindaloo. (tablehopper.com)

Ritu is a casual place, with bright colors and even brighter lights. It’s an easy place for a midweek meal, but the flavors are so good you could fool yourself and pretend you’re eating at one of SF’s high-end Indian restaurants. Just don’t be in a rush—things move a little slower here since everything is made to order, perfect for date night. The wine list covers a lot of bases, and there are a couple aperitifs and a white sangria, while three kinds of lassi and four kinds of sodas (like salted and spiced fresh lime) are also offered.

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If you want to enjoy his food during the week, track down his truck, the Dum truck. One more thing to note: Ritu just launched weekend brunch, served Sat–Sun 11am–2:30pm, with dishes like masala omelette, butter chicken toast, and sprout and cheese crepe. You can ask Rupam when he plans to sleep.

Don’t Miss Farming Hope’s Annual Fiesta Fundraiser at Mister Jiu’s

Mister Jiu's
28 Waverly Place
San Francisco
Sunday, September 16
6pm–9pm
Tickets: $108 + $3.15 fee

One of Farming Hope’s Thursday community dinners.
One of Farming Hope’s Thursday community dinners. (Tim Dang)

Farming Hope is a non-profit community organization providing transitional employment and training in the culinary industry to unhoused and low-income people in our community, something that is greatly needed right now. They have been doing some strong work in the San Francisco Bay Area, promoting self-sufficiency by creating equitable opportunities in local food businesses.

Every week, they host pop-up dinners you can buy tickets for (these community dinners highlight ingredients from their urban gardens and partner Imperfect Produce). Ticket donations range from $35–$45 per person, and help pay their employees while training on the job.

But on September 16, they’re hosting their Fiesta at Mister Jiu’s, a second community fundraiser dinner designed to raise funds for their first community café in San Francisco! It’s going to be quite the night with top San Francisco restaurant partners, including Mission Chinese Food, Nopa and Nopalito, Tartine Bakery, Turtle Tower, Zero Zero, and Outerlands. There will also be drinks, live music, storytelling from their culinary and garden apprentices, a live auction, and activities (including a cactus-jam workshop).

You can buy tickets to the event, or even look into the various sponsor levels to help support their mission to provide jobs, training, and community to help end poverty and homelessness. Or book a ticket to their pop-up dinners and help support this amazing organization.

Indulge in Some East Coast Nostalgia at a Sunday Clambake

Presidio Social Club
563 Ruger St., San Francisco
Sundays, starting at 5pm (through October 14)

Get ready for Sunday Clambake at Presidio Social Club.
Get ready for Sunday Clambake at Presidio Social Club. (Presidio Social Club)

Anyone who misses East Coast summers will happy with this new Clambake Series, running every Sunday through October 14 at Presidio Social Club. The three-course clambake dinner is available after 5pm and includes a Boston thin lettuce salad, clambake with Maine lobster, clams, mussels, sausage, corn, potatoes, and butter, and for dessert: Boston cream pie. The meal is $48, and you can also start your evening with a Sea Breeze or Cape Cod to really get into the theme.

Avedano's Deli Opens in the Back of Maison Corbeaux, Serving Sandwiches and More

Maison Corbeaux
2901 Sacramento St., San Francisco
Deli open Wed–Sun 11am–7pm

Find a tasty Cubano at Avedano’s Deli at Maison Corbeaux.
Find a tasty Cubano at Avedano’s Deli at Maison Corbeaux. (tablehopper.com)

On the corner of Divisadero and Sacramento in Pacific Heights is Maison Corbeaux, a well-stocked bottle shop that Kyle Nadeau opened in the former London Market. But there’s a new addition in the back you should be aware of: Avedano’s butcher shop in Bernal Heights has opened a satellite deli there. You’ll find a menu of hot and cold sandwiches, soup, pizzas, and tasty salads, including one that is like a niçoise with smoked trout. It’s all about the hot sandwiches (you can browse the wines while you wait): there’s an excellent Cubano, and their popular Smokey Moe, a grilled panino with smoked turkey, Swiss cheese, bacon, jalapeño jam, mayo, and pepperoncini. It’s worth noting the pastrami is housemade! You can grab a sandwich and head just two blocks away to the nearby Alta Plaza Park.

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There’s also a meat case, with different cuts of beef, lamb, pork, and chicken (easy dinner, coming right up!), plus charcuterie and some cheese for any last-minute party needs, and the pantry area has pasta and snacky items too. Maison Corbeaux stocks a notable selection of wine, spirits (whiskey lovers, here’s your spot), and some quality beers, so you won’t be thirsty.

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